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Divided We Stand

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“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” – Luke 12:51

“Our country is so divided” many say.

I agree, but when most people are fighting over who gets to have the power to make others obey their orders, division is one of our greatest defenses against dogmatism.

I don’t want to be unified at all costs. I want to be free at all costs. And freedom has always been divisive.

Most of the people who spend their time talking about the plight of division are the “political losers.” That is, the ones who feel as if the division leaves them at the mercy of an unfriendly upper hand. When they complain about division, what they’re really upset about is being on the losing side of a division that already existed long before they were angry about it.

There are always political losers. Lots of them. And the political losers are always divided against the winners. The topic of division, however, only seems urgent when you’re one of the political losers. If you’re on the winning side in politics, you typically don’t care about the losers. You mostly see them as whiny cry babies who should either leave the country or accept the results of our democratic process. In other words, the winners see “unity” as “stop complaining, get with the program, accept the fact that we’re winning, try to understand the logic of our approach, and support our superior strategy for taking this country in the right direction.”

The goal for the political losers who bemoan division is a form of unity that is based on *their* terms and *their* ideological assumptions. What they want is the political power to dethrone the winners and make others conform to *their* definition of unity. And what better serves as a balancing force to the desire for political power than division? If you feel like you’re losing politically, then division is your saving grace. If it weren’t for division, the very people you see as evil would simply force the world to conform with their ideals.

You might find yourself thinking “Well, sure that’s partially true but our division is a sign that things are really bad this time around.” And to that I say “Not for the winners. The winners don’t see it that way at all. While you’re stressing out about division, they’re busy feeling hopeful about the new direction they’re taking things in. And that’s probably how you felt the last time you identified with the winning side.”

Things are always really bad and things are always really good. It’s just a matter of when you decide to start caring and what you decide to care about. But don’t fool yourself about the following: our nation and our world has always been divided about what really matters and what needs to be done about it. We just happen to live in a technological age where the political losers have more ways to make themselves heard. The good ole days when everyone was mostly on the same page is a complete fantasy. Division has always been among us and division is here to stay.

What we need is less complaining about division and more strategic thinking about how to use division as a tool for creating a decentralized world.

I don’t want to sit on the throne. I don’t want you sitting on throne. I don’t want all of us to sit on the throne together. I don’t want to attack anyone who’s on the throne. I don’t want to destroy the throne. I don’t want to declare myself an enemy of the throne. I don’t want to wage war against the throne. I don’t even want to talk about the throne. I want to build things that undermine the very relevance and perceived necessity of the throne.

I don’t want a world where division is seen as something that needs to be overcome by the “right” central institution. I want a world where division is the very foundation for an entirely new landscape of human interaction and exchange.

If you disagree with me, then I think we have a very strong foundation to build upon. We’re going to need every bit of your disagreement and distrust for the world we’re creating.

Easy Work Is Hard Work Smartly Applied

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Working smart = working hard at the right things.

Working dumb = working hard at the wrong things.

There’s a distinction between working smart and working dumb, but there’s no such distinction between working hard and not working hard.

When someone says “I live a balanced and healthy life”, that means something like “I don’t spend all my time and energy doing income-related activities. In addition to working hard at my job, I also work hard at staying fit, eating healthy, spending time with family, making room for my hobbies, attending birthday parties, and other things that are important to me.” That’s not the opposite of hard work. That’s the definition of smart work.

This is a person who spends a lot of physical energy making sure they can be present to the people and pastimes that matter most to them. If you could put a hidden camera in their house, you would see lots of boring footage of them writing down lists, prepping food, jotting things on the calendar, returning phone calls, driving around town, putting out fires, listening patiently as someone vents to them about a problem, standing in long lines, preparing ahead of time to avoid the long lines, doing research about their areas of interests, saying “no” to low value requests, and a host of other things that would appear quite tedious to people who don’t share their priorities. And that’s precisely how your life appears to me and everyone else who isn’t exactly like you.

Everyone is working hard all the time.

Some people work hard at avoiding work. Some people work hard at making their lives look really awesome on social media. Some people work hard at having fun. Some people work hard at traveling the world. Some people work hard at practicing their religion. Some people work hard at making a living without a traditional work schedule. Some people work hard at finding discounts. Some people work hard at mastering video games. We’re all working hard at different things for different reasons.

If you ever find yourself snobbishly looking down on someone who “just doesn’t get it” because they work too hard, that’s because you believe they’re spending too much time and energy on things that are low value to you. When you have those moments, try to remember that someone else is having the same moment about you.

The point I’m making here isn’t about empathy though. I’m not asking you to be more empathetic the next time you feel inclined to judge someone who seems to work too hard.

The point is about opting out of the comparison game altogether. It’s about evaluating your life in terms of “moments lived meaningfully” rather than “number of hours worked.” It’s about not allowing yourself to feel righteous or superior just because you only work a four hour work week.

I don’t care about how much time you spend at the office and you shouldn’t either. Why? Because just like everyone else in this world, you only have 24 hours a day and you’re going to spend every second of it working on something. And if you’re not working on the things that are right for you, then it really doesn’t matter if you’re at the office or at the beach. An unhealthy life is an unhealthy life no matter where you’re located. You don’t need to be at your job for 80 hours a week to be unhealthy. You can just as easily waste your life away at a beach house or at your buddy’s house for only 20 hours a week.

Here’s an old saying: “No one on their death bed wishes they had spent more time at the office.”

True enough, but here’s something else you should keep in mind: “No one on their death bed complains about that time they worked their butt off trying to finish that novel they always dreamed of writing.”

Here’s another one: “No one on their death bed complains about all the painful and uncomfortable hours they spent at the gym making sure they were realizing their physical potential.”

Here’s another one: “No one on their death bed complains about that one time they listened to their spouse or best friend vent about their problems for hours even though they really needed to get some sleep at the time.”

Here’s another one: “No one on their death bed complains about all the hours they spent listening to podcasts on health & nutrition or all the hours they spent shopping for the right foods when they could have saved time by just eating fast food every day.”

Do you see the pattern here? All meaningful choices require sacrifice, compromise, initiative, and persistence. In short, hard work.

The thing to be feared isn’t too much time at the office. The thing to be feared is too much time doing the wrong things.

The thing to be proud of isn’t how many hours you choose or refuse to work per week. The thing to be proud of is how much room you make for the things that matter most to you.

You’re already working your butt off (even if you’re busy promoting a narrative about how much you hate work). Stop trying to avoid hard work and start working hard at the things that are worth working for. And if you don’t know what’s worth working for, then work hard at figuring that out.

There is no easy life, only a good life.

“Easy work” is just hard work smartly applied.

Internal versus External Boredom

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Internal boredom (being bored with your own lifestyle) is a problem.

External boredom (having a life that appears boring to others) is irrelevant.

That is, It’s not okay for you to be bored with yourself, but it’s perfectly fine if others see your life as boring.

The primary joy of life is to live out your own idea of fulfillment. Being seen as “the person who really knows how to have a good time” is optional.

In your quest to live your dreams, don’t get sidetracked by a need to convince everyone else that your life is some kind of daring and delightful adventure.

You don’t have to brand your life in order to build your life. You don’t have to market your happiness in order to make your happiness.

If you’re in love with the life you’re living, that’s more than enough.

There will always be people who find you boring. That’s harmless. Just don’t let them find you bored.

Be the Star, But also the Sidekick

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The best way to promote your business is by promoting the goals and accomplishments of the people you’re dedicated to serving.

Customers don’t care about how awesome they can make you. They care about how awesome you can make them.

Dale Carnegie wrote: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

The same is true for your customers and clients.

You’ll go much further in creating wealth if you build your profits around building people’s potential. When you help others grow, they’ll help you grow.

The key to success is knowing how to be Batman AND Robin. It’s okay to “be the hero of your own story.” Just don’t forget that you’re the supportive sidekick in everyone else’s.

You’re Always Speaking Up (Even When You’re Silent)

There’s no such thing as a neutral place in ideological space. No matter what you choose to do or refuse to do, your underlying worldview will bleed through.

When you choose to opt out of a debate, you’re taking a stance against the assertion that you’re obligated to participate in the debate.

When you choose to offer no comment on an issue, you’re taking a stance against the assertion that it would be more appropriate for you to speak up.

Apathy is never without impact. And silence has just as many enemies or victims as speech.

You’re still free to be uninvolved, uninterested, and uncommitted when it comes to any discussion. You’re just not free to be neutral.

True neutrality is impossible.

Everything you say or don’t say is a vote you’re casting for a specific philosophy of life.

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